About your Book:
1975: Shawn meets Dawn, his one true love, when she moves into the vacant house next door. Many people spend their life searching in vain for happiness, but he was lucky; finding it at the tender age of fifteen.
1979: Shawn and Dawn are forbidden to see each other. Feeling he is harming her by being in her life, Shawn walks away from the love of his life, apparently forever.
2006: after decades of sadness and mourning the girl that got away, Shawn has a chance meeting with Dawn that might change his life forever… again. Can the sweet bond of first love not only survive, but flourish?
Feels Like the First Time helps you remember what it was like to come of age and fall in love in small town America in the 1970’s. No matter how much the world changes, some things, like timeless music, high school dances, making out in the backseat of a Chevy Vega, and of
course true love, will always remain the same.
Targeted Age Group: 40+
Genre: Memoir/Romance/Coming of Age
The Book Excerpt:
It had already been a very long day, but I wasn’t in any hurry to get home to Enumclaw. As I drove north on I-5, I turned the volume up on the CD I had just bought that day–Yusuf Islam’s An Other Cup.
I was exhausted and unhappy, but that was normal. At 46, I was slowly killing myself by eating too much, not exercising at all, and withdrawing from everyone around me. I didn’t much care if I lived or died.
I had been in my second marriage for five years, but it felt more like a prison than a marriage. The divorce I knew was coming was just another in a long string of failed relationships stretching back thirty years.
Four years earlier, I had told my wife, Adinah, that I didn’t love her.
“You don’t get to do this,” she replied. “If you think it changes anything, it doesn’t.”
And so life went on. I had tried to end our marriage ever since, with no success. I couldn’t find the emotional strength to get it over with and say the magic words: I want a divorce.
I was still ninety minutes from Enumclaw and realized I was starving when I saw the last Centralia exit in my headlights. I jerked the wheel to the right at the last moment and cut off a gold sedan. I could barely hear the honk of their horn over my music, but I saw the finger, telling me to have a nice day.
I wasn’t sure what food I might find on this exit, but when I pulled off the freeway, I instinctively turned left. Up ahead, I saw a sign that read Bill & Bea’s. I hadn’t even known that place was still open. I’d eaten there a lot when I was in high school in the ‘70s but hadn’t been back since I’d moved out of Lewis County.
Without a thought, I eased into the parking lot and got in line behind an old pickup truck. Yusuf Islam–the former Cat Stevens–was singing that he went where his true love goes. I clicked it off because I didn’t particularly feel like listening to that sweet sentiment.
I was beginning to think the folks in the truck in front of me were never going to get their order when they finally pulled away, leaving a blue cloud of exhaust in their wake. I pulled ahead and waited to place my order. The girl at the drive-thru window smiled the way pretty young girls do at safe-looking older men. She took my order and disappeared.
A minute later another woman came to the window and asked me a question, but I didn’t answer. An electric charge started at the top of my head and ran down my spine. My stomach flip-flopped and my hands went slick against the steering wheel.
I gaped at her. There was something about her, but I couldn’t quite grab what it was. Just looking at her made my heart race. She had shoulder-length wavy auburn hair and soft features with brown eyes that jumped out at me. Her face swirled through my memory, but wouldn’t come into focus.
“I just need to know if you want onions on your chicken sandwich,” the woman repeated patiently.
I couldn’t answer. My brain was stuffed with cotton.
“Yes, please,” I finally mumbled. As she walked away, I thought maybe she felt something unusual too, but after a brief pause, she was gone.
Why were fireworks going off in my head? Who was that woman? She was attractive, but I see attractive women every day without acting like a fool. Through the drive-thru window, I could see her standing next to a flattop grill talking to the girl who had initially taken my order. The woman laughed suddenly and a thunderbolt hit me. I had never been able to forget those laughing brown eyes.
I hadn’t seen her in twenty-seven years, but I knew it was her. I watched her slide gracefully between the counter and the grill to pick up an order. My mind wandered through long-buried memories I thought would never resurface.
She had lived for so long only as a memory; it was exhilarating to be this close to her again. As the years and decades passed, I came to believe I would never see her again. I accepted that, and even found odd comfort in the sense of closure. Finding her so unexpectedly sent my head spinning.
She brought the bag with my food. She took my money and handed me change with a tiny smile, but no hint of recognition. I wondered how she could not recognize me. She thanked me and turned away, but I couldn’t let her vanish again.
“Did you go to Mossyrock High School?”
I took my foot off the brake and the car eased forward slightly.
“Class of ’82?”
Of course that was right. I was terrible at math under pressure. Her dark eyes focused intently through the drive-thru window. She put her hand on her hip and cocked her head slightly to the right, trying to place me.
“We went to school together.”
She stared blankly, and I couldn’t take the suspense. I gave her my biggest smile.
“Dawn, it’s Shawn.”
She was quiet for a moment.
“Shawn who?” she finally asked.
The question took all the air out of my ego. I wondered if I really looked so different. She examined me and I could tell she wasn’t making the connection.
“Shawn Inmon. We lived next door to each other.” I thought of adding, “You know… your first?”
She took a half-step back with stunned recognition. Her hands flew to her mouth and her brown eyes widened. It was a gesture the years never washed from my memory. I watched her expression flood with memories.
“Oh my God,” she said. She paused and said it again. Each word was its own sentence. Oh. My. God. The young girl who took my order bounced over with a broad smile.
“Hi!” she said. “I’m Connie, Dawn’s daughter.”
I offered a lame smile to Connie. It was impossible for me to look away from Dawn. I laughed nervously but couldn’t speak. Ten seconds of awkward silence followed while a Buick idled patiently behind me.
“I’m Shawn,” I said weakly to Connie. My eyes were trained on Dawn. “Your Mom and I were friends a long time ago.” Connie’s smile told me she knew what kind of friends we had been. Dawn continued to murmur “oh, my, God” over and over, shaking her head. She chanted eerily, like a record needle stuck in a groove.
I tried to say something to break through, but I was so stunned at being this close to her, I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile.
“It was good to see you,” I mumbled. “I was just on my way home to Enumclaw”. Dawn didn’t seem to hear me. She was lost in her own world.
I grew frustrated at my inability to get my brain and tongue to work together. I turned to Connie.
“Tell your Mom it was good to see her, okay?” I gave her a poor attempt at a wink and failed. I took one last, long look at Dawn, and drove off, dizzy with the thought of her.
I wanted so badly to turn my car around and run into the tiny restaurant, yelling, “Dawn. Baby, it’s me.” I wanted to hold her tight against me and let the intervening years evaporate. Discretion and the ring on my finger prevailed, and I kept my wheels rolling forward, moving me further away from her with each second.
I had suppressed all thoughts of her for three decades. Now she was real again, and I couldn’t prevent the surge of feelings. Memories, sensations, and emotions swept over me in relentless waves, choking me as I merged onto I-5.
The years had changed nothing. I loved her still, infinitely, after so much time. I loved her as I had when I kissed her tear-stained face goodbye on Valentine’s Day, 1979.
I turned my music up and let the miles roll under my wheels. My body was in 2006, but my mind, spirit, and heart were firmly lodged in the 1970’s.